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    Borderline personality disorder

    Personality disorder - borderline

    Borderline personality disorder (BPD)is a mental health condition in which a personhas long-term patterns of unstable or turbulent emotions. These inner experiences oftenresult inimpulsive actions and chaotic relationships with other people.


    Cause of borderline personality disorderis unknown. Genetic, family, and social factors are thought to play roles.

    Risk factors for BPD include:

    • Abandonment in childhood or adolescence
    • Disrupted family life
    • Poor communication in the family
    • Sexual, physical, or emotionalabuse

    This personality disorder tends to occur more often in women and among hospitalized psychiatric patients.


    Persons with BPD are often uncertain about their identity. As a result, their interests and valuescan change rapidly. Theyalso tend toview things in terms of extremes, such as either all good or all bad. Their views of other peoplecan change quickly. A person who is looked up to one day may be looked down on the next day. These suddenly shifting feelings often lead to intense and unstable relationships.

    Other symptoms of BPD include:

    • Intense fear of being abandoned
    • Cannot tolerate being alone
    • Frequent feelings of emptiness and boredom
    • Frequent displays of inappropriate anger
    • Impulsiveness, such as with substance abuse orsexual relationships
    • Repeated crises and acts of self-injury, such as wrist cutting or overdosing

    Exams and Tests

    BPD is diagnosed based on a psychological evaluationthat assessesthe history and severity of the symptoms.


    Individual talk therapymay successfully treat BPD. In addition, group therapy can sometimes be helpful.

    Medications have less of a role in the treatment of BPD. But in some cases, they can improve mood swings and treat depression or other disorders that may occur with this condition.

    Outlook (Prognosis)

    Outlook of treatment depends on how severe the condition is and whether the person is willing to accept help. With long-term talk therapy, the person often gradually improves.

    Possible Complications

    • Depression
    • Drug abuse
    • Problems with work, family, and social relationships
    • Suicide attempts and actual suicide

    When to Contact a Medical Professional

    Seeyour health care provider if you orsomeone you knowhas symptoms of borderline personality disorder. It is especially important to seek help right away if you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide.


    Blais MA, Smallwood P, Groves JE, Rivas-Vazquez RA. Personality and personality disorders. In: Stern TA, Rosenbaum JF, Fava M, Biederman J, Rauch SL, eds. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. 1st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2008:chap 39.


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              Tests for Borderline personality disorder

                Review Date: 11/10/2012

                Reviewed By: David B. Merrill, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.

                The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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                St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
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